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By Enio Sacilotto, President International Hockey Camps, Head Coach, Croatian National Men’s Hockey Team

The key to a successful offense is the ability for defensemen to retrieve the puck, make the 1st pass to the forwards, begin the attack and then to get up ice as quickly as possible and join the attack. Without the puck getting to the forwards as quickly as possible a team’s ability to attack is severely limited. This article and video will give 7 key points to give players and coaches a better understanding to what is required to have a successful break out.

1. Transition: In this case we refer to your team going from defense to offense as quickly as possible. You must have a “think quick” mind set. The 3 second rule is key: the player that retrieves the puck has 3 seconds to get organized and make the 1st pass on the forwards stick!

2. Quick on the Puck – When you recognize that the puck is dumped in the zone or you have chance to retrieve it, you must act quickly. Quick turns, usually from backward to forward, keep feet moving and in general, “getting back hard” are important! Remember: you have 3 seconds!

3. Shoulder check – Always do a shoulder check before retrieving the puck, this gives you an opportunity to read the amount of pressure your forechecking opponent is putting on you and gives you the opportunity to read where your teammates are so you can decide what your pass options are. Things in hockey happen fast so you must be aware and know what is going on around you – so have a “swivel head” and check your shoulder!

4. Use Deception –  just before picking up the puck, if you have forechecking pressure it is important to use deception. A stick or head fake can momentarily throw the forechecker off. This extra second can provide you enough time to evade the pressure and make a play.

5. Pick up the puck at an Angle – When retrieving the puck it is important for you to get there first. Going in at an angle is to your advantage as you will have the opportunity evade the forechecker and make the valuable first pass. Practise “escapes” as they work well in getting away from the forechecker.

If you do not have the time to go in at angle, then get there first! Be prepared to take the hit by establishing body position, bending your knees to absorb the hit and protect the puck if needed. A viable option if you cannot make a play is to “bump” the puck to your supporting teammate.

6. Move your feet forward and get on your forehand as often as possible. Being on your forehand allows you to make a firm, flat and accurate pass! Just as important, move the puck quick and take the simplest passing option you have available!

7. Communication! Be your partner’s eyes… talk to your teammates and let them know what is going on around them…. Be loud!

Please click on the youtube video below to see some game clips illustrating some of the points of this article.
Also go to where you can find information on summer hockey camps and tons of free resources for coaches, players and parents.

Coach Enio is a professional hockey coach of 34 years, public speaker, blogger and President of IIHSI who operates International Hockey Camps around the world. If you have any questions about this article or would like to bring Coach Enio to your community, email at or call +1-604-255-4747.